Ultravox – Warren Cann interview (1977)

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I recently made a transcript of this interview as part of my 40 Years of Foxx project.
It’s interesting to read the perspective of other band members

SNOT RAG (Fanzine, Vancouver BC)
No. 4 December 20, 1977

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Ultravox first came into prominence late last year, and immediately drew mixed reaction from the critics. Hailed by NME:

“If the New Wave of rock is going to produce bands a s good as ULTRAVOX, then it looks like 1977 might be as good as 1967 for modern music”

and lauded by Melody Maker’s CAROLINE COON:

“ULTRAVOX are obviously another new band who are going to make 1977 a vintage year for Rock… some very special talents are t work here.”

Their detractors accused them of being contrived, a mere imitation of ROXY MUSIC. However as 1977 comes to a close ULTRAVOX have most certainly stood the test. With two successful albums and a string of singles, they have completed highly successful tours or Europe and Britain. The band are confident about their future and have never sounded stronger. Their music is a perfect blend of complex rock and futuristic vision. Drummer WARREN CANN and bassist CHRIS CROSS provide a tight rhythm section, embellished by Billy Currie on keyboards and strengthened with STEVIE SHEARS frantic guitar work. The band provide a perfect show-case for the fragile yet devastating lyrics of their manic vocalist JOHN FOXX.
I recently had the opportunity to gain an interview from ULTRAVOX drummer WARREN CANN, (undoubtedly one of the best drummers to emerge from the New Wave). What follows is that interview in its entirety.

S.R. –    You’ve recently completed your biggest British tour ever, was it as successful as you had hoped?

W.C. –  Yes, we played all over the country and the audiences were great. They know us better now and aren’t as easily throne by some of the things we do. We’ve tried ever since we began to keep changing, to keep mutating. We’re not interested in finding a formula and flogging it to death like so many of the dinosaurs, or like a lot of the punks do for that matter.
I think that the one thing people can expect from ULTRAVOX! is constant change. We’ve just completed our first tour of Europe, that was from mid-October through to mid-November. We played in Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium and Holland. The audiences over there were great. They’re different from English audiences in that they don’t tend to go off like a rocket when you walk onstage – they sit there and really listen, then as the music goes on they get more and more involved until at the end they’re going spare.

S.R. –    I understand you weren’t too happy about the conditions under which you recorded the first album? Can you elaborate?

W.C.    What??? I don’t know where you heard that… nothing like that happened, we were really happy about it all. So would you, too, if you’d been knocking on record company doors for two years and constantly being given the elbow.
You see, in those days there was absolutely nothing happening. When we started London was like a wasteland, none of us could hear what we wanted to hear or what we felt it was necessary to hear so we just decided to do it ourselves.
It was only later on that we discovered there were a few small pockets of change happening. THE HOTRODS, THE FEELGOODS, the LONDON SS, THE STRANGLERS and what was to become The Clash, plus a lot of other people who have since surfaced, they were all on the streets then but it was just that the scene was totally underground then. The media here was still down on their knees at the feet of the DOOBIE BROS and DEEP PURPLE.
We were something the record company people hadn’t seen for a long time, a band off of the street, a band with no famous or ex-name people in it. An untested commodity that they were scared shitless of. To make out demos we had to sneak into a studio where a friend of ours worked. We’d go in on the weekend and come out just before the cleaning ladies arrived on a Monday morning. When we finally found ISLAND we were over the moon about being able to go and get our sounds down on vinyl and get them out and about. We did it in their own studio in Hammersmith. Until then it was only the second studio we’d ever been in so it didn’t make any difference to us where we did it.
All I can suggest as to why you heard we weren’t happy with it is a complaint that everybody in the world must have. Immediately after you’ve done an album you feel you could’ve done it better, if only we’d done this or that or the other thing etc. We’re learning to come to grips with that, both from having some experience in the studio now and because we really like how accidents can turn into things that give you new ideas. We’re trying to do more and more things as quickly as possible. If you take two weeks getting the toothbrush overdubs right the thing just dies in your hands. A lot of stuff on the first album was done very quickly and a lot of stuff on HA! HA! HA! was done first take. You get a rawness then that you wouldn’t get otherwise…

S.R. –    Just how big a part did ENO play in the actual production end of it?

W.C. –  When we were discussing the album with Island, they wanted to know if we wanted a producer on it or not. We were open to the idea if whoever it was was interesting and they suggested that we meet ENO. ENO was still on Island and we rather suspect that it was because they felt he was the only person that could understand what we were trying to do!
We met ENO and immediately got on with him. He has this reputation of being a very esoteric fellow clouded in mystery, but really he’s a perfectly straightforward bloke who hasn’t let his musical ideas become calcified by the trends of the music biz. He’s great. You could say that while we were in the studio together we were mutually experimenting on each other.

S.R. –    How do you feel about the new album?

W.C. –  We’re knocked out by it. We’ve got a lot more confidence in the studio now, we know what dials to pull to get whatever we want and that gives you a good backing from where you can afford to take more and more chances. I like it because I think we’ve managed to go in at least two different directions at once. It’s a lot harder than the first album and it’s a lot stranger at the same time. We’ve become more and more interested in pure noises, sounds that just rip into you and rattle around, or sounds that seduce you in other less obvious ways.
There seems to be so much rock & roll at the moment that’s only blasting out aggression and frustration. Well, that’s fine, but there are a whole lot of other emotions in the human spectrum. We’ll use the claws when we want to but we want to evoke other feelings as well: mania, passion, serenity, remorse…
The next one will be even more different, we’ve got a lot of ideas and have been thinking a lot about what we’re going to do. It’s another departure. I suppose in that respect we’re not really what you’d call marketable… but that’s what keeps us excited by what we’re doing. We’ve got a completely free hand by the record company and there’s no reason why any of us would want to keep making the same records over and over again.

S.R. –    Do you have any plans for touring the States in the near future? If so when and where?

W.C. –              We have a major British tour in January and then we’ll be over to the States. I think we’ll be going to New York first, perhaps do a few gigs on the East Coast and then go over to L. A. for a while. I don’t imagine it will be what you’d term an intensive tour because we’ll opt for presenting our own show in smaller places rather than being on the same bill as TED NUGENT. I mean, the two wouldn’t be compatible at all… We’re not well known in the States and when you’re doing those sort of concerts its nice to be playing to thousands of people at a time and all that but chances are the match between acts is just so prone craziness. I’d much rather we started playing in clubs and things where the initial audience have the chance, for both our sakes, of seeing us do our show on our own in a place where there’s a bit of contact with each other.
Offhand, I think the only band we’d be excited by the idea of touring with would be KRAFTWERK, they’re great. Plans change every five minutes. We’ve got a lot of things that we want to do, and the chances are that America and Canada might not see us until later in the year. We’ll just have to wait and see… I hope it’s soon, I think we’ll kill ‘em. The time is right for us to go. I think the States has heard so much about the punk thing, the New Wave thing and gotten it all arse backwards. There must be a hardcore element to everything, I suppose. I mean… The people that originated the punk thing here have all dropped out. They’re probably all off somewhere blowing a spliff and growing their hair. The media has woken up too. – too late of course for punk – and have flogged it to death. You see adverts for mail order punk gear! Half of the drag they’re selling now for punks the majority of people can’t even afford! It’s all dead except the shouting.
There are so many second and third rate copies of the PISTOLS and the CLASH knocking about now that it’s pathetic. It did give music a gigantic kick up the arse when it needed it, but instead of thinking and trying to get different things together, the punks have gone even more conservative than the people they wanted to oust.
We’ve been knocked a lot for the sins of using an acoustic guitar in MACHINE; for having keyboards and synthesizer in our line-up; for having a violin! Those things aren’t done!

Every now and then we sing a harmony – what fussy farts we are! I think it’s beginning to sort itself out now though, it’s going to be very interesting to see who survives the initial blast and carries on. Right now there are some great bands in London who are getting rather lost in the shuffle because they aren’t currently slotting in with the punk idiom. The singer with the BOOMTOWN RATS said “New Wave rules…and the first rule is…” Things will be turbulent, but that’s the best way for any change to get through, the boat is gonna get knocked all over the world and all I can say is “What took it so long!” Thanks SNOT RAG from ULTRAVOX!

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Sideways – John Foxx & Louis Gordon

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Technicolour Modernism

Listening to the Music No-one Else Makes I smile my relief aloud and, drifting back, find myself at Olympia in 1967. It’s Christmas on Earth, and Gordon and Foxx have abandoned the burned out car they have been driving for too long, burst in through the psychedelic walls of hippydom and plugged in the synths buried under the heaps of kaftans and three-button suits along the crumbling walls. Armed with a Sound Collector, the agents have successfully gathered the echoes of the era and transduced them through the audio-Hedge that has grown up between the 14 Hour Festival and the Third Millennium. Forwards, Backwards. Sideways, at least.

Foxx has proved throughout his career time and again that his best work is that which is furthest from the mainstream. Sideways is so far away from that its from a different place altogether. A soundtrack for a strange low-budget B-Movie set in Xmal Deutschland somewhere, a place where you can see the polystyrene rocks moving as the Scary Monsters lumber past, their Rayguns held together by sticky-backed plastic and tape loops. Behind the safety of the bulletproof glass and away from the glare attracted by their diversionary lightshow, the agents have re-discovered their purpose.

With the clear rose-coloured hue of hindsight (and having let the glittering dust settle on 2006) I’d like to audaciously suggest that From Trash was a decoy, a model, programmed to distract our attention from the Secret Experiment that Foxx and Gordon were carrying out behind the closed doors of the MetaMedia Studios.

On pounding, rhythmic and cleverly vocalised tracks like X-ray Vision and In A Silent Way in particular, they revel in the freedom of sonic exploration and play around with a whole nervestorm of ideas, some of which (CarCrash Flashback, and Sailing on Sunshine at least) germinated in an Earlier Man about 20 years ago.

Or is that from twenty years hence?
Time means nothing. It merely re-arranges our memory.

Foxx has risen, it seems, from the very edge of self-destruction, and fulfilled a prophecy. His closing statement is a work of sublime genius. Phone Tap wouldn’t be out of place on Tiny Colour Movies, it’s such an evocative (and indescribably weird) piece of music that sounds like something from Quatermass. As ghostly torchbeams scan across the grey landscape, the Thing from Out Of Space[sic] emerges to a drone of deafening bass notes, punctuated by the analogue squeaks, squeals and squelches that have become trademark Foxx over the years.

If Bowie and the Beatles were asked to produce a ‘make’ for Blue Peter I like to think it would inevitably sound something like this.

Seems like the End of the Beginning will be an electronic happening after all…

9 out of 10. Smile-making.

 

For my money, this is the album Foxx and Gordon have been working towards for years.
Overshadowed and overlooked. Just as The Quiet Man would like it.

Standout tracks:

X-Ray Vision
CarCrash Flashback
In A Silent Way (Foxx & Gordon’s coup-de-grace?)
Phone tap

 

© birdsong 2007.

Usual terms and conditions apply.
If symptoms persist, you’re doing it wrong.

 

The Belbury Circle – Outward Journeys

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Ghostbox (label). The misrepresented musical history of a parallel world, via public information films, vintage synthesisers and esoteric sonic references.

Outward Journeys (album) Contemporary nostalgia. Collaboration between Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly; arrangements, notation, invitations and vision) and Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle; analogue sequenced bass, public information bites) with a guest appearance by John Foxx (polymath. Metamatic; vocal and synthesizers).
Idiosyncratic characteristics. Attractive and interesting.

All contributing artists share a re-imagining of the city proposed by psychogeography – the way different places make us think and feel, an aesthetic with its roots in the Dada and Surrealist art movements which explored ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination. The Ghostbox ‘Musique Concrète’ fusion of soundtracks, instrumentation, design and theory combined with sonic and cultural references led the late Mark Fisher to describe them as pioneering “hauntologsts” – re-designers of a retro-future that looks like the past. Or is that the other way round?
Either way, they inhabit a world of ghosts and memories variously abandoned, forgotten or erased by history

John Foxx is one of the ghosts here. Both present and not present throughout the album. His vocal appears unexpectedly first on the aptly titled Forgotten Town, an urban landscape he has walked himself for forty years, mining the streets and the scenes acted out on them. He drifts in spectrally, weaving his own evocative synthlines into Jupp’s rhythms and melodies, so cleverly that You Would Not Know He Was There.
The vocals are perfectly pitched and masterfully woven into the fabric of what is otherwise an album of instrumental soundtracks. Imagined television scores reminiscent of those evolving during the Ghostbox founders’ youth. Among these, John Foxx theme to LWT’s 1980 youth magazine programme 20th Century Box, his own contribution to an evolving genre.

Cloudburst Five invokes Dankworth’s iconic score for Tomorrow’s World. 1981. Michael Rodd and Judith Hann. Raymond Lefevre’s As You Please theme to Pebble Mill At One (no commercial symbols here!)
Transports is one of the album’s standout tracks, and links cleverly into the alternative sounds emerging from the music industry during the same period. Echoes of Depeche Mode and OMD are loudest here. Then Light industry takes Belbury Circle into archive territory similar to that currently occupied by Public Service Broadcasting.
End of Side One.

The ambient recordings that set the scene for Café Kaput tick all these radiophonic boxes, and it is after this melodic, loopy dream sequence that John Foxx times his second appearance. It’s easy to overlook Trees. Many of the city’s busiest streets are populated by trees. Parks are the lungs of the urban environment. Trees see a lot of things during their lifetime, often surviving gentrification more that any other elements. They archive stories. They are living ghosts.
On Departures Int, Brooks and Jupp introduce a guitar, typical of their collaborative aesthetic. It’s just another instrument after all. Like style… Which gives this piece the feeling of both a Holiday programme theme tune and a magazine you might pick up from the lounge in Schipol or Tegel.

And just as every time we meet there’s a leaving, so every outward journey preludes a return. Heading Home is a joyous homage to all involved and all that has gone before, the essential conclusion. The rhythm of a train runs through ithe track, simulating the Trans Europe Express rushing across Magnetic Fields on its way back to Berlin airport. Closing the album like this reflects new thinking and illustrates the construct that the future is perhaps closer now than it has ever been. Popular notions and cultural trends are returning to How We Used To Do Things. In context, the re-birth of vinyl is an obvious example, and that Outward Journeys is also released in cassette format is modestly visionary. Film is cool again. Foxx is a sculptor now, working with his hands and has declared no further use for a Smartphone.

The post-digital future is close at hand. The route is marked on a folded map in that dusty drawer. Discoloured paper. Vaguely damp smell. Scrolling TV screens, slightly out of focus. Cardboard. Low definition. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

Ask your dad.

8 out of 10.

ULTRAVOX! An interview with John Foxx by Ingeborg Schober, June 1977

Published in Musikexpress (Germany) on 2nd July 1977

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German text:

In ganz Großbritannien und an der Ostküste der USA schnellt die dritte Generation des Rock ‘n’ Roll uas den Startlöchern.

Zu den vielversprechendsten Gruppen der neugeborenen Szene (für die sich jetzt mehr und mehr das Schlagwort “New Wave” durchsetzt) zählt “Ultravox!” aus England. ME-Mitarbeiter Werner Zeppenfeld pries ihr Debütalbum vor zwei Monaten in den höchsten Tönen. Ingeborg Schober traf Ultravox jetzt in München, wo die Band fürs ARD-Programm gefilmt wurde.

Mehrmals schon hatten die fünf Ultravöxchen – alle so urn die zwanzig Jare alt – ihre neue Single “Young Savage” im Fernsehstudio der “Szene 77” mit der gleichen Konzentration und Vitalität durchgespielt. Und während sie bei dem Titel “Dangerous Rhythm” ruhig und fast brav dreinblickten, verwandelten sie sich jetzt auf einmal in wilde Bühnenakrobaten, voran der schmachtige Blondschopf John Foxx. Doch gleich darauf, als wir in der “Maske” sitzen, wo sich die übrigen Bandmitglieder (Steve Shears, git; Warren Cann, drums, voc; Billy Currie, violin, keyboards; Chris Cross, bass, voc) für den Auftritt schminken und die gewaschenen Haare füohnen, mimt er wieder den coolen, distanzierten Sänger, der endlich alles sagen kann, was ihm längst auf den Lippen brennt.

“Vergiß die Kategorien, ich halte sie für dumm. Wir könned mehr als die meisten Bands in London. Wir sind, was wir sind, und wir sind ziemlich anders als die übrigen Leute.”

Angefangen hat es vor 2 Jahren, als die New York Dolls auftauchten. “Das war für mich die einzig interessante Gruppe. Und ich wollte schon schon immer in eine Band, weil mir Geräusche gefallen. Früher stand ich auf Velvet Underground.” Die anderen Musiker traf Foxx in Clubs, wo sie mit lokalen Bands auftraten. Und Billy, der Geiger, der als einzinger die Musikakademie besucht hat, gehörte einer Theatergruppe an. John besuchte damals die Kuntsakademie.

“Mein Stipendium, das ich vom Staat dafür bekam, habe ich in die Band investiert. So einfach war das.” Zuerst spielten sie in einen Turnhalle, die zu einen Sportzentrum gehörte. Wie ernst war es ihm mit Musik damals? “Sehr ernst. Ich halte nichts von Hobbbies. Was ich mache, daran glaube ich. Konkurrenz fürchte ich nicht, denn sowas wie uns gibt es in England nicht noch einmal. Das ist keine Überheblichkeit, sondern die Wahrheit.”

Sub-header:
Ultravox macht Frankenstein-Musik: “Wir retten Teile von Toten. Ich glaube, daß alle alten Bands tot sind!” sagt Sänger John Foxx.

Klang die Gruppe schon damals wie jetzt, hat es ein Startkonzept gegeben? “Es fing damit an daß wir Lärm machen wollten. Ganz einfach Töne. Die gesamte übrige Musik hat uns gelangweilt. Wir haben nicht über Karriere oder soetwas nachgedarcht. Und seit dem Start haben wir uns mindestens fünf Mal total verändert. Und das werden wir auch weiterhin tun. Nicht eine Idee ist wichtig, sondern die Entwicklung. Sobalt etwas nicht mehr interessant ist oder sich wiederholt, werden wir damit aufhören, selbst wenn es gut ist. Ich glaube, das ist der einzige. Weg, als Individuum zu überleben, ohne vor Langeweile zu sterben.”

Aber würdest du nicht sagen, daß ihr bereits einen spezifischen Stil habt? “Stil ist nur ein weiteres Instrument, wie eine Gitarre, du kannst ihn so oder so benützen” Aber Einflüsse sind doch dad, von Roxy Music oder Velvet Underground? “Ja, vielleicht von zwei Stücken jeweils, die ich von einer Band mag. Es ist eine Art Frankenstein-Prozess; wir retten Teile von den Toten, die wir als tot betrahcten. Ich glaube, daß aller alten betrachten. Bands tot sind. Also können wir sie bedenkenlos benützen.”

Wie erklärst du dir, daß ihr trotz der geringen musikalischen Erfahrung sehr perfekt und professionell klint? “Ich hasse den Gedanken, ein ersnthafter Musiker zu sein. Das ist der falsche Weg um etwas in Bewegung zu bringen. Wir fingen bei Null an, auf demGetäusche-Level. Darauf bauten wir auf, selektierten die Gerüasche, die wir aufregend fanden. Und dann kam die Reaktion darauf. Ich denke, so fängt Musik an.”

Dein erstes Album wurde von Eno (dem ehemaligen Roxy Music Man) produziert. Hast du ähnliche Ansichten zu ihm? Obwohl er eigentlich ganz anders ist als wir, ist er viel schöner, wir sind sehr heiß, aber ursprünglich haben wir vom gleichen Punkt aus begonnen und sind nur in verschiedene Richtungen gewachsen. Von Eno Können wir immer noch eine Menge lernen. Mit ihm zu arbeiten ist wirklich aufregend. Der Zufall spielt dabei eine große Rolle.

Er hat eine sehr unbekümmerte Strategie beim Arbeiten. Er schaut zum Beispiel in die Karten. Wir haben mit einem Kartenspiel gearbeteit, das war sehr gut. Und du spielst dabei gleichzeitig mit deinem Leben, denn das Leben ist ein Album. Also spielst du auch mit deiner Identität. Und das ist, wie alle Spiele, sehr aufregend.” Heißt das, daß ihr keine festen Kompositionen hatter? “Moment, mach nicht den Fehler und glaube, daß wir ein Zufallsprodukt sind. Wir stengen uns sehr an bei dem, was wir machen. Es ist Leben.

Wir sind keine Amateure, wie gesagt, es ist kein Hobby. WIr sind sehr antschloisen und folgereichtig. Wir mögen nichts Affektiertes und Geziertes. Wir wollen eine Menge Geräusche und eine starke Aussage.”

Glaubst du, daß ein ganz junges Publikum eure Songs und die Aussagen versteht? “Ja, instinktiv besser als die Älteren, die es intellekteuil versuchen. Aber die Gefühle sind immer zuerst da, dann kann man sie intellektueil formulieren. ABer wir versuchen ja auch eine alzeptable Oberfläche zu schaffen, unter der denn eben mehr ist. Rock ‘n’ Roll ist eine so einfache Form, aber deshalb schön, weil du fast alles reinpacken kannst. Ich liebe es, durch eine Tür und noch eine und so weiter zu gehen. Ein Song muß ein Labyrinth sein, aber ein einladendes.”

Wir sind keine Amateure, wie gesagt, es ist kein Hobby. WIr sind sehr antschloisen und folgereichtig. Wir mögen nichts Affektiertes und Geziertes. Wir wollen eine Menge Geräusche und eine starke Aussage.”

Glaubst du, daß ein ganz junges Publikum eure Songs und die Aussagen versteht? “Ja, instinktiv besser als die Älteren, die es intellekteuil versuchen. Aber die Gefühle sind immer zuerst da, dann kann man sie intellektueil formulieren. ABer wir versuchen ja auch eine alzeptable Oberfläche zu schaffen, unter der denn eben mehr ist. Rock ‘n’ Roll ist eine so einfache Form, aber deshalb schön, weil du fast alles reinpacken kannst. Ich liebe es, durch eine Tür und noch eine und so weiter zu gehen. Ein Song muß ein Labyrinth sein, aber ein einladendes.”

English translation:

The third generation of Rock ‘n’ Roll is rocketing across the UK and the US East Coast, and among the most promising groups of this scene (for which the phrase “New Wave” is increasingly used) is “Ultravox!” from England. ME employee Werner Zeppenfeld praised their debut album two months ago[1] in the highest tones. Ingeborg Schober met Ultravox in Munich, where the band was filmed for the ARD program[2].

Several times already the five Ultravox-ers – each about twenty years old – have played through their new single “Young Savage” in the television studio of “Szene 77” with the same concentration and vitality every time. And while they looked almost calm for a performance of “Dangerous Rhythm”, they now suddenly turned into wild acrobats, particularl their frontman the petite blond boy John Foxx. But now, as we sit in the “Mask”[3], where the band members (Steve Shears, guitar; Warren Cann, drums, vocals; Billy Currie, violin, keyboards; Chris Cross, bass, voc) made up for the show and Foxx has his hair washed, he is once again again the cool, distant singer who can finally say that which has been nurning on his lips for some time.

“Forget the categories, I think they are ridiculous! We can do more than most bands in London – we are who we are, and we are quite different from the rest.”

Ultravox! started two years ago when the New York Dolls showed up. “That was the only interesting group for me, and I’d always wanted to get into a band. I like the sounds of groups like Velvet Underground.” The other musicians met Foxx in clubs where they performed with local bands. And Billy, the violinist (who is the only trained musician in the group) belonged to a theater group. John Foxx himself went to Art College.

“I invested my scholarship, which I received from the state, into the band. It was that simple.” First they played in a gym that belonged to a community centre.

How serious was his music then?
“I do not think much of hobbies and I do not really believe in competition. Besides, there’s no such thing as competition in England. And that’s not arrogance, it’s the truth.”

Ultravox makes Frankenstein music: “We save parts of the dead, I think all the old bands are dead!” says singer John Foxx.

What did the group sound like at the beginning, did it have a starting concept?
“It started when we wanted to make noise, just sounds. The rest of the music scene left us bored. We weren’t thinking about a career as musicians or anything like that, and we’ve changed ourselves totally at least five times since the start , and we will again. It is not an idea that matters, it is development, and when something is no longer interesting or gets repetitive, we will stop it, even if it is good. I believe that is the only way to survive as an individual without dying of boredom.”

But would not you say that you already have a specific style? “Style is just another instrument really, like a guitar, you can use it in different ways.”
But influences are still there, from Roxy Music and Velvet Underground? “Yes, maybe one or two pieces of each. I take whatever I like from other bands. It’s kind of a Frankenstein process – we save parts of the dead, parts that we consider they are not using. I think all the old bands are dead anyway – we can use them without hesitation. ”

How do you explain that you sound very perfect and professional despite your own limited musical experience?

“I hate the idea of being a worthy musician, that is the wrong way to get things moving. We started from zero on the deception scale. We are what we are, but when we set up, the rumours started. We just selected the rumours that we found most exciting and reacted to those. I think that’s how music starts.”

Your first album was produced by Eno (the former Roxy Music man). Do you have similar views to him?

“Although he is actually quite different from us, he is much nicer!! We are wild. But originally, we started from the same point and only grew in different directions. From Eno we can still learn a lot. Working with him is really exciting. He showed us that chance plays a big role. He has a very easy going strategy while working. He looks into his cards,[4] for example. We were working with a card game, which was very good. And you play with your life at the same time, because life is an album. So you also play with your identity. And that, like all games, is very exciting.”

Does that mean you didn’t have any rehearsed compositions?
“Hang on, no. Don’t get me wrong and start thinking we are just a random product! We care deeply about what we do. It is our life. We are not amateurs, as I said, it is not a hobby. We are very fond of what we do and committed to it. We just do not like anything ‘Affected’ or too carefully ‘Styled’. We want a lot of noise and a strong message.”

Do you think that a very young audience understands your songs and the statements?
“Yes, instinctively better than the elders who consider it intellectually. The feelings are always there first, then they can be formulated intellectually, but we also try to create an acceptable surface, and there is more to that than rock ‘n’ ‘Roll is such a simple form, but nice because you can pack almost anything in. I love going through a door and another and so on, a song must be a labyrinth, but a welcoming one.’

Footnotes:

[1] Musikexpress (Germany) 2 May 1977

[2] Ultravox performed two songs in the Munchenar Fernsehstudio during the afternoon. Dangerous Rhythm broadcast on ‘Szene 77 No. 5’ 10th June 1977 and Young Savage broadcast on ‘Szene 77 No.6’ 19th August 1977

[3] Vernacular term for the studio Dressing Room

[4] Oblique Strategies (Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno, 1975). Each card contains a remark or cryptic phrase that should be considered to overcome a creative dilemma

Translucence

 

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A single note, trailing off into the late summer afternoon, hails the arrival of Subtext, a delicate piece that floats over the lawn like a butterfly. Absorbing, engaging and immediately ‘of interest’. One watches, wondering where it will settle and willing it not to. Abstract piano adrift on mist of echoes, yet not without intent.

Spoken Roses is lower, rising through the scales. Falling back. Dispersing. Out of reach. It is as if we are remembering, either being here before in this white room, or the identity of the hazy pianist in the corner. Watching, listening; it becomes immense. Revolving and illuminated, it is all we can do is stand in awesome wonder and try to vaguely catch it from the air.

Distracted by a different phrase. A half movement outside, across the edge of the window. Glimpsed and gone, except for the longest, trailing echoes. Maximised minimalism. Momentary architecture.

Adult is uneasily familiar. An octave higher than Subtext; at first insistent, then charming. Purposeful, dancing in the long reverberation. The pianist has realised we are here and knows that we are listening. What does it mean to be ‘adult’? Do we appreciate more subtle complexities? Are we burdened? Inhibited, or curious? Nothing lasts quite long enough.

Outside, the evening is slipping gently across the dim horizon. The is Long Light on the grass, lingering. The shadows, folding back, resounding. Taking form more present than the original notes. Becoming fragile, they flicker at times, struggling to maintain their presence in the lengthening resonance.

Enrapt, we detect a Change In The Weather, a quickening of pace and an increase in volume. Less depth, as if recorded in a smaller space. We have drawn closer. There are translucent moths. There is a moment, at the end, when everything falls silent and the piano overcomes the reverb. Clarity intends, just for a moment.

Here And Now is all we can be. Transfixed, engaged and present. Listening intently, we look around, tracking the movement of the sound across the room as if it were light from the curtains. There is a hint of peppermint on the air. A rhythm emerges. We smile and nod, realising and assured.

Almost Overlooked another piece of fragile minimalism drifts into the Georgian room, carried on an echo rather than leading one. Each pair of notes, repeated, waits for the other. Resonant, like a bell at sea. Endless fascination. Mesmeric and beautiful.

Implicit dark, alarming chords snap us out of reverie. Sombre, foreboding and real. Fractured arpeggios tumble, slowly scattered. Falling, discomforting. Confused, I look about me now with wider eyes. Nothing I can see looks like an exit…

There is a pause. Reverberating, rolling and ancient. A long corridor lined with paintings, faded by the light from broken windows and tarnished by Raindust. Lingering stains on the canvas. Ancestral memories. Some of them are so far gone they’re hard to recognise. Others we know, and smile. The mood rises, softens. Fresher moments drifting on the persistent breeze. Hand in hand, we take the time to dance with them through the longest fade and out into the garden.

Interlude. The pianist is alone again, playing to themselves and the walls. A Missing Person, lost in wonder, unaware they are Looked For. Dreaming and cool, through all the storm of days. Atemporal transmission.

Reprise. Recapitulation. The Memory of Her Face, the Shadow of Her Hand – and other stories. Another time, another place. Implicit themes, underlying metaphor and the calm of understanding at revelation.
You Again, after all. Of course.

Cathedral Oceans reflected

In this piece, I am trying to pull together thoughts and reflections on John Foxx magnum opus, the three album series ‘Cathedral Oceans’. I am fortunate enough to know the music well as I have opportunity to experience it in the setting of a magnificent Victorian church, the kind of vast space for which the music was created. This enables both large scale projection inside and onto the building, and playing the music through event-quality sound systems

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John Foxx (2003):
This is intended as a slow moving, contemplative piece. The intention is to examine the possibilities of large scale projected work incorporating slowly changing visual surfaces and music. Both Sonic and visual components have evolved from the same conceptual frame. This is concerned with promoting a reflective state of mind in the viewer. It is also concerned literally with echoes, reflection and reverberation, both in memory and in the physical making of the images and music. The music is intended to work within large architectural spaces, using the longest possible delays and echoes to determine its rhythmic and harmonic structure. The images are made from layered and merged photographic material derived from many eras which shifts and dissolves constantly, producing a gently hallucinogenic surface. The piece is intended to operate at an opposite pole to most media, which seem to be accelerating in pace. Its appearance can be described as a digital, secular moving stained glass window…

It will take many years until we become familiar with this work and get an understanding of its significance. Like a city, we will visit many times, often returning to familiar passages and districts from the same point of entry. Most often it seems this will be in autumn, and we establish a truth around this, finding seasonal connections and atmospheres around change, transition and recollections. But looking back through notebooks and diaries, we see also that there have been many visits in spring time, when colours are new and bright, or at the height of a verdant, warm summer when the air sits heavy. Occasionally and sometimes we will explore somewhere new. Take a different turning or cross a different street.

Sometimes we will be alone, to walk among memories and rekindle emotions. Other times we will seek old friends and stand among them in places that remain unchanged. Perhaps we will seem them in the market or a coffee shop, remarking that somehow its different now. But we will always return.

This incredible suite of music has a beguiling sense of place. It has a physical presence, though indistinct and barely tangible. We think we know it, but parts of it remain hidden and others scare us and we don’t want to go there. We will sit among its sweeping phrases, movements and symphony, remembering. We will not recall most of it at all and notice different things every time, and yet we will assure ourselves that it is familiar and we know where we are. Memories will be evoked, enjoyed and discarded. We know the landscape, the bigger picture – it’s the detail that evades and never quite comes into focus. But as we sit and listen and engage, they becoming crystal clear for moments, as if they have always been there and we have somehow overlooked them. Little details among the composition will suddenly stand out like architectural features or photographs, subtle and beautiful, adding to the whole. Yet with an enchanting, individual beauty of their own.beauty of their own. We will trace them gently with our fingers and wonder about them, then look up and out again at the surroundings, as if we want to share.

“Look, hear. See this – have you noticed it before? How charming it is.”

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Cathedral Oceans is most often described as music for a vast, submerged cathedral and we have come to associate it with crumbing walls, grandeur and greenery. Overgrown and overlooked. Pastoral, somehow rural and perhaps even ‘English’. There are trees, leafy lanes. Rain and romance. Yet it is equally urban, its mood and evocation suggesting a labyrinthine city, sweeping highways and skyline high rise. A place to get lost. Is it enclosed, or open? Are we looking out over a vista, or up from the bottom of the sea. Is that smoke, or clouds? People, birds and fish become one. An imagined reality fused with fiction and truth. Trees and tower blocks. The forest is a factory.
Autumn beholds spring and summer. We will grow older and then young again, spending time with earlier versions of lovers and ourselves.

The true secret of its identity and situation – an thus of our own – lies hidden among all these things, and it will never be quite the same whenever we come. And we will never quite know how to get here – we will just arrive. Like a memory. As we age, they become a more integral part of our present, invoked unforeseen. It will always be a place of tranquillity among chaos, an arrangement of moments threaded together in intricate generous patterns of longing. Instances of quiet splendour and intense complexity among a broader, expansive release.

To appreciate the fabric and the craftsmanship of its weave, we must take time to sit, and just to be. To let the music and space embrace us, and drift away on its tides. We must wear the suit for many years, becoming whoever we are when we put it on. Wondering and wandering. Engaging with the slowness of time.

Longing, breathing and quiet…

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What follows is a few descriptive thoughts evoked by each track, and my attempt to differentiate between the individual pieces. Though best experienced as a whole – or at least each full album – there are of course intricate, subtle and essential characters in each piece, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Some are instrumental, some fuse the synths with choral harmonic voices. None have ‘lyrics’ as such, but parts may be recognisable as re-purposed Latin, extracts from the Catholic mass and medieval ‘chant’.

CATHEDRAL OCEANS

Cathedral Oceans
The first movement opens with a scene-setting instrumental, a gentle introduction of rising, light synthesised string washes reminiscent of pastoral, classical musical.
We have come to some kind of vast church or cathedral. It rises before us, resplendent and huge. There are steps, and columns, and we gaze upwards at the ancient architecture rising from the vegetation at its base.
There is a pair of iron gates across some kind of overgrown path. One is closed, entangled and rusted; the other hangs loose, fallen and open…

City As Memory
Exploring all the above themes: people, places, experience and identity. This piece evokes an internal space, as if we have walked into a huge, dark hall. Why is it dark? A treated, layered and spectral voice reverberates off the walls, filling the space with echo. Imposing.

Contains scenes of mild threat and uncertainty.

Through Summer Rooms
Altogether lighter, gently. We are seated now, having brushed some dead leaves off a dusty bench overlooking a pond. It used to be a bath, and there are marble steps going down into the silent water. The vocal is more affirmational and re-assuring than the last piece, it has more air and seems to be rising from the water below us. There is a graceful elegance about the single voice. Devotional and calming.
There is also a faint whirring, and an image flickers onto the wall opposite,  as if it were projected. It is unclear, half-formed. A woman?

Geometry And Coincidence
A detail.
Simply structured notes that call our attention to something. That glimpse, that half-imagined film. Was it there before? Focus. Past times returning. A bell tolls repeatedly in a distant cloister. What IS that? There is a suggestion of something specific, precise. A corridor lined with identical doors. We listen more closely too, as if something is about to appear but the Latin is still just a little too blurred and unclear. It is as if the voice is now communicating with us directly, rather than part of the ambience. The harder we try to remember, the more distant and evasive the memory becomes.
Here, and Gone.

If Only…
Our mood darkens for a moment, and we are now alone with a familiar longing. The voice has gone, and this passage is an instrumental reprise of the opening sequence. An interlude, as if we have looked up from the bench to a high, broken window through which filtered sunlight falls on the flagstones. By lifting our gaze and feeling a gentle breeze in the air, we become aware of the fondness and affection of someone we know. Her fingers are cool, and we take her fragile hand.

Refreshing and splendid.

Shifting Perspective
The longest piece on the album. Built around a repeating melody that is at once comforting. We are walking and talking with her, dancing in an empty ballroom under a mirrorball. A Man and A Woman. There is rhythm, and in its arms we can just ‘be’. Introspective and beautiful. Lost for a moment.  Adrift in 1983.
The camera switches to a panorama of the sweeping city outside. We do not even know it is there and think only that the lights we sometimes see at night are stars. Dance with me…

Every time we start there is an ending.
The music wanders off, the voice lingers. Isolated for a second.

She is gone.

Floating Islands
Sombre. Mournful. Which way did she go? and where did we come into this place?
Tearful and anguished by a sudden, wrenching sadness. The voice is ours.
Transitional.

Infinite In All Directions
In our meanderings and despair, we have come to a balcony and stand now overlooking an immense, unfathomable vastness. Watching the world turning round below us.
Endless horizons. Endless possibilities.
Each of them as unlikely as the next.

And just as wonderful.

Avenham Colonnade
Focusing again. A close-up. The first reference in the landscape to a point of entry – a tangible place that we recognise. The voice is lighter, affirming and re-assured. We are perhaps less of a stranger here than we thought, and by returning to each familiar place we build a clearer picture of somewhere we have always been.
A place in Preston, leading from the Harris Art School. 1965.
There is a sense that we will be Leaving soon.
We feel empty because she is gone, but full and alive because she has been.
The voice is singing to us now, waving.

Coda and summation.

Sunset Rising
Appendix 1.
Forgotten chapters revisited. Things we always meant to do, down that passage overlooked. This is the shadow we thought we saw briefly on that wall, and all that Might Have Been. Strong, choral harmonics rising to fill the space.

One of those things that lies behind one of those doors that we never open.

Invisible Architecture
Addendum.
Looking out from the heath across the City of Endless Lights. Everything is falling back gently into some kind of order. There is a voice, but it is wrapped in swathes and resonance. Woven into the fabric of the suit among the glimmer and washes. Gently focused and reflective. Organise, re-arrange and consider.

Sequencing events and memories.
Mapping the city.

There is birdsong. It is dawn.
We’ve been standing in The Garden.

CATHEDRAL OCEANS II

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The longest album in the trilogy, and the only one still yet to be awarded an independent release. It also remains the only Cathedral Oceans that has no visual accompaniment – the two commercially available DVDs (both titled ‘Cathedral Oceans’) feature music from Cathedral Oceans (2003 release) and Cathedral Oceans III (first released in 2006).

At the time of its release, in June 2003 as part of a 2-CD set with a re-issue of its predecessor (re-titled Cathedral Oceans I), it would be fair to say that Cathedral Oceans II was ‘significantly overlooked’. Commercially, the package (on Edsel) was completely overtaken by the high-profile awarded to John Foxx third (and most anticipated) collaboration with Louis Gordon, the highly-charged electroclash of Crash and Burn. Further shadows were cast by the eventual appearance of Foxx long-awaited collaboration with Harold Budd six weeks later and all the radio and media interest in the Crash and Burn tour that began in September.

But the long shadows of a summer afternoon, cast by walls, pillars and overgrown statues make a perfect environment for Cathedral Oceans and sitting in the empty places behind the news headlines is the best place to appreciate its textures and subtlety.
And for those, like me, eagerly looking forward to the second chapter in the story of the ‘moving-stained glass window’, the release was warmly welcomed and intensely enjoyed.

How could it possibly be as good as the first?
Where will Foxx’s pastoral Catholicism take us from here?

More abstract perhaps. Significantly darker and, in places, noticeably less harmonious.
More challenging, more intense. Less accessible? The same, but different…

Revolving Birdsong
An introductory passage that is just that – looped recordings of a dawn chorus, spinning gently around the field recording of a Blackbird. As I understand it, this too is Foxx own composition, not a ‘soundtrack’ extract. Authenticity. A pastoral symphony that is at once quintessentially ‘English’.
Echoing the closure of Invisible Architecture, the subconscious framework our senses build upon which we layer our emotions and experience.

Shimmer Symmetry
The repeated voice of the the thrush segues seamlessly into what is essentially a drone piece, a wash of extended synthesised notes. A rising and falling tide of sounds. No phrasing, no melody. No apparent structure at all. Two vocal channels, laid one over the other and again. Recollecting the visuals, the ever-changing multilayered artwork we cannot see. Two choruses singing to each other from opposite sides of some cavernous amphitheatre. Call and response. A Medieval sing-off.

Far And Wide 2
Is there a Far And Wide (1) hiding on a tape somewhere? The titling teases us, posing another question among those presented by this deepest and darkest of pieces. Sadness prevails, on an immeasurable scale. Filmic and forbidding. We are standing among clouds, or is it dust, or misty vegetation –  bearing witness to the rising of enormous towers.
We gaze upwards. In Awe Of Industry.
Unsettling. Disturbing and provocative. Vocals drift in and out between the channels mysteriously. Slow and residual. Ghostly, spectral harmonics. We feel displaced, alone. Dislocated. There is someone lost here, grieving and incomplete.

Haunted.

A strong, defiant piece. Subversively creative.

Ad Infinitum
Appropriated Latin. Forever undiminished, and coloured in the rich traditionally ancient hues of the Catholic mass in its various forms. There is a sense that somehow this is music of a higher order. Transcendant, and becoming harder to reach. More difficult to fathom and grasp. Less accessible, Mr Foxx?
We feel apart from the events unfolding around us now. Observers. The music behind the chant sounds like a Grand Organ, and we don’t quite know what to do or who to follow.

This is not what we have known.

Our confused state evokes huge bass notes that crash in of a sudden, seemingly uninvited. Interrupting and abrasive. Distracting, as if passing outside. The organ in the background sounds a long way off all off now, as if it has physically receded behind the vocals, allowing a space for these monsters to invade, and at once the sound becomes cacophonous and confusing. Volume, in the very physical sense.

Witness the most difficult and complex piece of the entire suite. Claustrophic and oppressive. We turn our heads around, trying to make sense of the confusion. And there it is. Within the noise and the apparent dischord there is a kind of rhythm.

The layers eventually synchronise and find a spectral harmony.
Or does it just make less sense than ever…?

Quiet Splendour
The music that sweeps up behind the simpler vocal track now has an arboreal quality, and we are in a cathedral of trees. Majestic and splendid yes, but not as oaks. There are darker things here, ancient hardwoods, with vast trucks that reach unfathomably high and breath legends. Heavy and soporific.

Or are we underground? Nothing is clear in this dark mist. Swirling.

Do you here that whirring, buzzing noise? Wake up to the sound of engines.
Listening to the music that the trees make.

Luminous And Gone
Everything now takes even slower passage. Deeper and longer, as if the voices around us are coming from the stone itself. We are lost, and beginning to seek some relief from this claustrophobic situation. Wave upon wave of melancholy and longing, each echo slower and more extended than the one before.

We seek relief. No light falls through the windows, now overgrown and fallen. The air is thick and has a presence of its own.

The slower we travel, the sooner we’ll arrived.
Our destination
Remains unknown.

Stillness And Wonder
As the next piece unfolds in further layers of sonorous pre-modernism, we become aware of the vaguest silence. Just for a moment. Distant massive, rumbling bass notes approach, each on a significant delay over 30 seconds. Between them, we can dare to breathe again, and there is space for ambient sounds to drift in from the listening environment around us.
There are cracks in the wall of this cavern after all, gaps between the stones. We can hear footsteps down the adjacent corridor to our right. A door slamming and a child’s laughter. Real birdsong. A robin, not a recording.

And there are no singers. But neither are there shorter pieces. No interludes.

The notes keep coming. And going. Let them come, be absorbed. Enveloped by texture and an invisible, un-begotten rhythm. A self existent eternal tide. Endless endless.

It stops. Is this the first track to ‘end’?

Return To A Place Of Remembered Beauty
Pay attention to the titles. The small, discoloured, hand-written labels that are barely legible in the half-light. Through this door is somewhere you have been before. Echoes of Pleasure. A shimmer in the dark when she called your name. Alone in the timeless dance…

We are, at least for seven minutes, recalling to mind those lighter pieces from the first album, where the strings are higher and clear, if they are still stretched over immeasurably vast distances. The singing has returned too, the half-language, the unfamiliar not-quite Latin. Security and hope.

Between the leafs of the canopy, the vaulted ceiling of the chancel is emergent and we scan between them aware of detail in the shadows. The Human Host around us is in full voice.

Unseen, but at least somewhere we feel he is here.

Visible & Invisible
Are we remembering, or not. Is this a memory, or a fantasy?
Never Been Here Before. Perhaps we saw it in a film…?
If it was a film, it would have to be one of those super 8mm tiny colour movies in that dusty American studio. That guy with all those reels. People waving. People we have never met.

The water is green, murky. It is hard to see her, swimming among the rusted automobiles…

For the first time since we stepped through that fallen iron gate, we are longing for this to be over and wish we had never come in. The way back is unclear, and do we have to swim? or fly? It would take years to walk, to retrace our steps, but we may suddenly step through a doorway and be there.

Here though, now there is more tension than tranquility.

Golden Green
A valediction. Affirmational and glorious.
It is significant that we do not quite know how we got here.

The voice has form, shape.
Words, of a kind, sung at the quickest pace we have been aware of for an hour.
Repeated phrases. Recognisable structure.

Missa Cantata

Pater, et Filius, et Spiritu Sanctus.

Every time we meet
There’s a Leaving…

CATHEDRAL OCEANS III

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Oceanic
Exactly that. Sweeping and rising. Falling and breathing. Tidal and expansive. It’s breath fills this cavernous hall, immersive and calming. An endless looped of sea.
A gentle vocal comes in have way through as we near some kind of distant shore.

Through Gardens Overgrown
We have landed on an abandoned beach, unknown to time. Outdoors, and it feels like we are in a jungle. Every every seems uncertain. Until we stumble across fallen statuary, and recognise introduced plant species. Ghostly perfume, rose and hyacinth.
There is some complex palimpsestry going on here, complex layers of sound and a channel switching unique to this piece. Disorientating, but only half gathered. As if for a moment the composition staggered and tripped. Fragmented for a second.
Beautiful moths shimmer in the half-light and there is a moment of awkward silence.

Spiral Overture
Set in a ruined ampitheatre, a fallen hall open to the shifting sky. No vocal for 90 seconds or so, just quiet, delicate music floating above us. When the Latinesque, whispered voice returns, the definition seems to fade. It is insistent, urging, close and ethereally ‘present’ as if we should be able to see and almost touch the singer.

Scenes of mild discomfort follow, as if we are being asked to justify our presence here. Present our credentials to the spiritual guardian of the space.

Take my hand and let us watch the sky.

We move through a doorway into a long, empty corridor…

The Shadow Of A Woman’s Hand
still linger son the stairway. Dreaming and cool. She swept along here many years ago, but her presence still lingers in the air. The same Parisienne fragrance. The voice in the wall is clear, as if emanating from the moulding portraits. We can almost make out what they are trying to say. But not quite. It is as if we know there is a memory there, but we do not recognise it, and now is not the time. Perhaps it is a moment we have no wish to recollect. Haunting. Reminding…

The figure sings of longing times, of past and soft exchanges. As if things are being carefully, patiently explained in a language we do not yet understand

And then a strange, a sudden pause whereupon we turn a dark corner. Breathless for a moment we have come to a private antechamber that unsettles us further. Annex. Another time, another place.

Once I was walking alone, with a friend…

He sings of secrets in deeper tones, his voice an octave lower. Narrative, intense.
He turns away in light and sliver.

Radial Harmonics
A unique moment of exquisite difference.
Lost in our meanderings, we have come again to that pool
A bath of motionless water, surrounded by marble and fringed with lillies.
Occasionally, bits of sound fall from overhead and land in the water.

She is sitting on the steps in a white dress, half submerged. The linen clings to her lower legs and her fingers hover gently above the surface. She cannot see us.

Serene Velocity
After such a sharp moment of clarity and focus, vocals merge once more with building music and all the edges become unclear again. Long delays. Nothing quite arrives, or ends. Moments past can linger through all our eternities. A melancholy drifts across a pane of scratched and tarnished glass. Thin, glistening streams of water have made a mossy course down some of the other windows.
Looking through, it becomes clear that this is not in fact stained glass as we first thought. Instead, through the glass, coloured lights are filtering in from a distant outside. A city. Neon and crisp, refracted into three. Four. Flickering, bright and luminous. Headlights, streetlights, advertising signs.
We think we know, and our fingers trace the balustrade, half-certain.
Forgotten names and blurred faces. Almost transparent. Photographs and leaf.

Halting.

Fog Structures
When we somehow return to the pool, a mist is forming above its surface. We can see shapes – buildings, horses. People dancing. Harmonics return off the stone wall and join the shapes. There are giant, graceful fish like underwater automobiles

Eternity Sunrise
A second drone piece, heavy texture and many indistinct layers. Thick, long and lingering.
Eventually there is again the half-remembered sound of a bell. Debussy’s drowned cathedral. Geometry? or Coincidence?

Harmonia Mundi
Affirmatory and splendid, recalling Golden Green from CO1. Familiar, like coming upon a face that we know in a crowd of strangers. But how so, when we have never been here before…?
In the mist, a large choir has gathered, dressed in white robes. They have parchment, with ancient words scribed upon, familiar words. Sanctus. Lumine. Joy to the world. There is music. Definable, organised music, played on an organ hidden somewhere behind one of the pillars. Out of sight. We are in some kind of coda…

Arms and voices are raised in praise and triumph. A kind of ‘worship’ of sorts. A hymn to the glory of wonder, perfectly placed at the close of this third album. There will be an encore of course, but this is presented here as an ending. The beginning of the end.
Leaving. Arriving.
A point of departure.

City Of Endless Stairways
It is moonlight now. Late evening.
Someone, somewhere is playing a single violin andante, and the composer is conducting. An orchestra is revealed, and this becomes ‘something else’ – from cantanta to concerto. An interpretation of classical music from the spirit of electronica. An experimental fusion of liturgy and scored notation. Ancient and modern.

Samples. Phrases of Bach, of cello. There is a new direction here. Somewhere else to go.

An ocean of infinite possibilities

In Rising Light
And thus to early dawn. An atmosphere of calm descends, retrospective. Drawing us down and bidding us adieu.

I am still here
And I will wait for you

There is a hint of sadness and regret in his voice.
A last waltz in a dusty ballroom.

Move all you life to the rhythm of the pictures
And let regrets
Form a silhouette

Provocative and wistful. We are lost in ourselves and have become each other. Embracing and warm. Drifting.
Strange how moments last so long…

Metanym
If Rising Light determines all that is Cathedral Oceans, drawing all the splendour together, then Metanym is the quintessential embodiment of all that is John Foxx.
A simply perfect instrumental that brings the circle just.

Soon it will be 1981, and birds will sing.
You were someone else then, in the glimmer and the glow.

The metadelic counterpoint of metal beat.

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The Complete Complete Oceans (5-disc vinyl box with prints by John Foxx) is available from the official store
https://johnfoxx.tmstor.es/cart/product.php?id=29223

SUNDAYS AT THE LYCEUM

An archivist’s dilemma

This whole advert query was resolved on 28th April 2017 when I received scans from Javier of each respective page of NME and Melody Maker.
These pages confirm that all my sourcing is correct, and further confirm that indeed there were TWO adverts for the LYCEUM gig in the same edition of NME of December 9th 1978.

Left – page 42                                                     Right – page 47

1978-12-009lyceum002  1978-12-009lyceum

There were a whole series of adverts for the ULTRAVOX gig at THE LYCEUM in London on Sunday 10th December 1978, published in the UK music press for up to three weeks ahead of the show.
I have copies of (most) of them, but of course they are not all dated and sourced.

Seemed appropriate on the anniversary of the show to try and comprehensively sort them out. More information comes to light all the time, and I am always learning.

25th November 1978

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This is the first one, sourced from Bored Teenagers with thanks from Mike Chilton on Twitter. I have no reason to doubt this is from SOUNDS but there is no evidence in the image to confirm the source.
Lists THE SKIDS and SNIPS as support bands.

Were similar listings published in the other papers on this date? Seems likely.

2nd December 1978

1978-12-002mm_new  1978-12-002nme_new

These next two are confirmed as correctly sourced and dated.
The image on the left I found myself and scanned in the British Library archive from MELODY MAKER – the typography of the header ‘Entertainment Guide’ is distinctive.
The image on the right is sourced from Simon Dell at Encyclopedia Electronica and was published in NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS

Was there a similar ad in Sounds this week, and how doe sit differ?

Note that MM lists Mekons supporting Rezillos and has Undertones on the same line
Note there is no exclamation mark against ULTRAVOX in either magazine (cp Sounds, above) and that each advert lists Angletrax in support as well as Snips

9th December 1978

1978-12-009lyceum002  1978-12-009lyceum

This is where it gets interesting.

The date is correct – the ULTRAVOX gig has moved to the top of the column
I am reasonably confident that BOTH these two advertisements come from NME because the format of the date and page number headers are consistent with that paper (thanks to ConorMc on Twitter). However it is extremely unlikely that there would have been TWO LYCEUM ads in the same edition – or is it?
The image on the left is from the outside right of Page 57 (page numbers in NME were always on the outside of the pages, furthest from the margin).
The image in the right is positioned on the inside right of a left-hand page (the tearing is from the gutter).
Both adverts have other other material (adverts) to the left of them

So – assuming there was only one listing in NME on this date, one of these ads must be from a different source. But the page headers for NME, SOUNDS and MELODY MAKER all list the magazine title in the corners, which would show in these scans.
Only NME puts the magazine title in the CENTRE of its page headers.
The font is consistent with NME too, so I favour that source…

Which raises the question – who played on 17th December and would therefore be expected appear below ULTRAVOX in the column?? The left image (above) clearly has no listing for 17th December. The image on the right however suggests a listing which this new scan shows more clearly:

1978-12-009unknown_new

Look at the small right-hand scan again, and you can see it is cropped sufficiently to see this advert for the DAVID JOHANSEN GROUP underneath ULTRAVOX. The dot pattern and part of the lettering are just visible.

And yet these are clearly not the same article. The large scan (above) shows other information to the right of the advert, so it is positioned differently on the page in whatever publication appears.

Conclusion?

Another visit to the British Library archive will sort out 9th December listings easily enough. It would seem there are three. This would make sense, as the ad would have appeared in Melody Maker, Sounds and NME.
But for now – which is which?